This year, as every few years, Tisha Be’Av falls on Shabbos. In this case, halachah dictates that the fast of the Ninth of Av is postponed to Sunday, in deference to the sanctity of Shabbos.
The present article will outline the laws of Shabbos that pertain to this combination. On the one hand, the sanctity of Shabbos prohibits us from mourning; on the other, it remains the Ninth of Av, the most tragic day of the Jewish calendar. Moreover, the fasting and other restrictions of the day commence immediately after the termination of the Shabbos, raising a number of halachic questions.
How is the law of the se’udah mafsekes, the special (mourning) meal eaten before the commencement of the fast, to be fulfilled? Is it permitted to study Torah on Shabbos after midday? When should shoes be taken off, and Shabbos clothes removed? When is havdallah recited, and what are its laws? We will answer these questions, and others, in the present article.
Eating on Shabbos-Tisha Be’Av
The Gemara in Taanis (29b) cites a Beraisa that records the halachah concerning eating on Tisha Be’Av that falls on Shabbos: “Tisha Be’Av that falls on Shabbos, or the eve of Tisha Be’Av that falls on Shabbos—one eats and drinks as one wishes, even bringing the feast of King Shlomo to the table.”
It is clear from this primary source that one can eat to one’s heart’s desire on this Shabbos, despite the fact that it is Tisha Be’Av. The simple reading of the Gemara implies that this is true even for the third meal of Shabbos: Even though this is the meal leading into Tisha Be’Av, one’s eating is unrestricted.
However, early authorities dispute whether the Gemara means to merely permit eating as one wishes, or means to obligate eating a festive meal, as on every Shabbos.
According to the Raavyah (3:888) and a number of other rishonim, it is permitted to eat as one desires. Yet some refrain from eating meat and drinking wine—at least for the third meal—because there is no obligation to do so. In a similar vein, the Shibolei Ha-Lekket (266) mentions that some are careful to refrain from eating meat and drinking wine from midday on.
The Rambam (Taanios 5:8-9) writes simply that a person is permitted to eat “all he wishes” on Shabbos, and adds: “We never eat a cooked dish on the eve of Tisha Be’Av, even a dish of lentils, unless it is Shabbos.”
Some derive from the wording of the Rambam that on Shabbos of Tisha Be’Av the custom was to eat specifically a dish of lentils, and not the regular festive meal (Maaseh Roke’ach). However, others explain that one can eat normally, and there are no restrictions on any of the Shabbos meals (see Ha’amek She’elah 158:3, who derives from the Rambam that one should not eat more than usual).
Halachic Rulings on this Issue
The Mishnah Berurah (552:23) rules that one can eat on Shabbos as usual, and it is forbidden to refrain from eating meat on account of Tisha Be’Av, for this is considered an act of mourning: “It is forbidden to refrain from meat, for although there is no obligation to eat meat on Shabbos, nonetheless refraining from eating meat on account of mourning is a sin.”
Yet, the Mishnah Berurah cites the Magen Avraham, that a person should “sit in anguish,” and should not enjoy the company of friends on this Shabbos. At the same time, he notes that the Bechor Shor disputes this, and rules that this is considered a public act of mourning which is forbidden on Shabbos, so that one must sit in jovial company as usual. The Mishnah Berurah concludes that it is certainly permitted to eat in the company of one’s family, as in regular weeks.
Rabbi Moshe Feinstein (Orach Chaim 4:112, sec. 1) adds that it is permitted to eat meat even if one does not regularly eat meat on Shabbos, and it is likewise permitted to sing zemiros on Shabbos, even for somebody who is not used to doing so, “for this is in honor of the Shabbos.”
It is obligatory to cease eating before sunset (shekiah; Rema 552:10), and one must be careful to ensure that one has eaten sufficiently before this time, so that there will be no appearance of mourning on Shabbos. It is preferable to conclude the zemiros before sunset, too, and doing so is not considered an explicit act of mourning.
One should not, however, sit on the floor until after nightfall, for this is an explicit act of mourning, and hence forbidden on Shabbos.
Torah Study after Midday on Shabbos
Poskim discuss whether or not it is permitted to study Torah on the eve of Tisha Be’Av after midday—even on regular weekdays.
The Terumas Ha-Deshen writes that it is forbidden to study Torah after midday on the eve of Tisha Be’Av, whereas the Maharshal (cited by the Taz 553:2) writes that there is no prohibition in this. In practice, the Rema (553:2) cites the custom of refraining from Torah study after midday, except for those Biblical and Talmudic passages that one may study on Tisha Be’Av itself. However, the Mishnah Berurah (8) cites a number of authorities who are lenient in this, including the Vilna Gaon and the Chayei Adam.
On account of these opinions, the Mishnah Berurah concludes that “one who wishes may be lenient in this matter.”
When Tisha Be’Av falls on Shabbos, the Lekket Yosher (1, p. 110) writes that one should not study Torah at all during the entire Shabbos! This ruling is not cited by other authorities, but the Maharil (44) does write that one should refrain from Torah study after midday. The same principle emerges from a ruling of the Rema (553:2), who rules that Pirkei Avos is not recited at Minchah of this Shabbos.
Yet, the Mishnah Berurah cites many authorities who permit Torah study on the eve of Tisha Be’Av during the week, and the more so on Shabbos—as the Maharam of Lublin (99) writes. The Taz (loc. cit.) rules that one who studies Torah on Shabbos “does not lose,” and the Mishnah Berurah (10) concludes that the basic ruling (for Shabbos) is to be lenient.
Taking off Shoes
Another question that requires our attention is removing shoes for Tisha Be’Av.
By contrast with the halachah of eating, where there is a full obligation to refrain from all eating and drinking from the shekiah, the Roke’ach (310) writes that one only takes off his shoes from nightfall after Shabbos, after the recitation of Barchu. The Rema (553:2) cites this ruling, adding that the Chazan (for Maariv) takes off his shoes before Barchu (so that he will not be interrupted), after saying “Baruch Ha-Mavdil.”
The reason shoes are only removed after the departure of the Shabbos—after Barchu is recited—is (as noted above) in order that there should be no act of mourning on Shabbos.
Concerning somebody who is at home at this time, Shut Salmas Chaim writes that shoes are only removed after nightfall. He explains that this does not involve a problem of wearing leather shoes on Tisha Be’Av, for when the original enactment was made, it was decreed that when Tisha Be’Av commences on Sunday, the restriction on shoes applies only from nightfall.
However, some state that one who is at home should take off his shoes at sunset. The argument is that because he remains home, taking off shoes does not involve a public act of mourning. A number of authorities uphold this view (see Shemiras Shabbos Kehilchasah Chap. 28, note 139, citing Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, who used to lay in bed without shoes, from sunset until nightfall (Shalmei Mo’ed Chap. 92, note 116); see also Hilchos U-Minhagei Bein Ha-Metzarim, p. 183, note 7).
This involves a chidush, for it can be argued that the only instance of private mourning which is permitted (and obligatory) even on Shabbos (as ruled by the Rema), is mourning that is in essence private—marital relations. In addition, there is room to argue that taking off shoes is not considered an act of avelus (mourning), but an act of inui (suffering), which is prohibited on Shabbos even in private (Minchas Chinuch 313).
Indeed, the Vilna Gaon (553) writes explicitly that there is no obligation to take of one’s shoes before nightfall, and a similar ruling emerges from other authorities (see Chayei Adam 136:1; Shut Salmas Chaim 227). The custom of the Chazon Ish was likewise to take off his shoes only after nightfall. It is possible that in places where it is common to walk barefoot indoors (in hot climates), taking off shoes before nightfall will not be a concern—though one should not put on cloth shoes until nightfall.
The Custom Today
Our custom, by contrast with the ruling of the Rema (551), is to wear Shabbos clothes on the Shabbos before Tisha Be’Av (following the ruling of the Vilna Gaon). According to this custom, we might say Kinnos in our Shabbos clothes, a practice that seems inappropriate even after taking off our shoes (see Mo’adim U-Zemanim 7:256).
Because of this, many shuls schedule the Maariv of Motza’ei Shabbos a little later than usual, giving congregants time to change shoes and clothes after nightfall (and after saying “Baruch Ha-Mavdil“) and only then going to shul. This is the ruling given by Rabbi Ovadyah Yosef (Yecheveh Daas 5:38), and is likewise cited from the Chazon Ish (by Mo’adim U-Zemanim; see also Zeh Ha-Shulchan 2, noted to Orach Chaim 559).
In places where the custom is to daven at the regular time (this is a common custom outside Israel), one should follow the Rema’s ruling to wear shoes and Shabbos clothes to shul and change shoes after Barchu. It should be noted that one should bring one’s Tisha Be’Av shoes to shul before Shabbos. Besides the problem of carrying without an eiruv, there is also a prohibition of preparing on Shabbos for Tisha Be’Av.
When is Hadvalah Made?
There are many laws involved in making havdalah this Shabbos, and we will not be able to cover them all in this article. Rather, we will cover only the basic halachos and their sources.
Owing to the impossibility of drinking the wine from havdallah, authorities suggest a number of different methods by which the mitzvah of havdallah should be performed.
One option, which is mentioned by a number of rishonim, is that havdallah should be made as usual, with the wine being drunk by a child who is not fasting. Other Rishonim (see Meiri, Taanis 30b; Ramban in Toras Ha-Adam), however, reject this option, because of the negative educational effect on the child.
A second option, which is adopted by the Ramban (Toras Ha-Adam, Aveilus Yeshanah), is that there is no obligation to say havdallah at all—not at the termination of Shabbos, and not on Sunday night. The reason for this is that since havdallah can’t be made at the regular time, the mitzvah is entirely deferred, and we rely solely on the havdallah of atah chonantanu.
The principal halachic ruling, however, follows the third option, as raised by the Geonim, which is that havdallah is made on Sunday night, after the termination of the fast. This opinion is cited by Tosafos (Pesachim 108a), and agreed to by a number of rishonim. The Shulchan Aruch (556:1) cites the ruling, and later authorities confirm the ruling (see Magen Avraham 2; Eliyah Rabbah 4; Chayei Adam 126:6; Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 125:6; Mishnah Berurah 559:37).
The opening verses of the regular havdallah (“Behold, the G-d of my salvation”) are not recited at havdallah after the fast, just as they are not recited by mourners (Divrei Malkiel 6:9).
At the termination of the Shabbos, the regular blessing is recited over the candle, but not the blessing over spices (Shulchan Aruch 556:1).
Because there is some doubt as to the obligation of women in reciting the me’orei ha-eish blessing (see Biur Halachah 296, s.v. lo yavdilu), it is preferable that a man, who is at home at the time when Shabbos terminates, recite the blessing of their behalf. In principle, however, a woman can recite the blessing for herself (Minchas Shlomo 2:53:2).
Havdallah for Those Eating on Tisha Be’Av
Somebody who is sick, and therefore allowed to eat on Tisha Be’Av, must make havdallah before he eats. However, if he will only need to eat in the middle of the day, he should not recite havdallah immediately at nightfall, but should rather wait until he needs to eat, and make havdallah before eating (Kaf Ha-Chaim 9; Minchas Yitzchak 8:30).
Accoring to the Chidah (556:3), somebody who needs to eat and therefore makes havdallah on Tisha Be’Av, can also make havdallah for others, even those who are fasting. For this reason, if it is hard for the person who needs to eat to recite havdallah, a healthy person can recite havdallah for him, and the wine is drunk by the sick person, or by a child who is not fasting. This principle is ruled by the Tzitz Eliezer (14:44) and by the Mishnah Halachos (7:39).
With regard to a minor who eats on Tisha Be’Av, the Maharil Diskin (Kuntress Acharon 5:72) discusses whether he must make havdallah before eating, or not. The general custom is that minors do not recite havdallah, and this custom is cited in the name of the Steipler (Orchos Rabbeinu Vol. 2, p. 145) and of Rabbi Elyashiv zt”l (Shut Rivevos Efraim 3:371), and noted by other poskim (see Shemiras Shabbos Kehilchasah 62:45).
May Hashem bring us the speedy rebuilding of the Temple, and may the day of the Ninth of Av be turned into a day happiness and joy.
- The third Shabbos meal is eaten as usual, including Shabbos songs, but one must end the meal before sunset (shekiah).
- It is permitted to study Torah on Shabbos as usual. Marital relations are forbidden (for Ashkenazim).
- Clothes and shoes should be changed after the termination of Shabbos, and after reciting “Baruch Ha-Mavdil Bein Kodesh Le-Chol.” It is preferable that the husband/father recite the me’orei ha-eish blessing for women who stay at home.
- The atah chonantanu prayer is said in Maariv. The me’orei ha-eish blessing is said in shul before reading Eichah; it cannot be recited over a fluorescent light bulb, but only over a true flame (or an incandescent light bulb, if one can still be found).
- Havdallah is recited after the fast (some prefer grape juice to wine for this havdallah).